Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An outstanding meal at Six89

Saturday night, I made the 160 mile trek from my front door in beautiful downtown Denver to devastatingly charming Glenwood Springs on Saturday night. Reservations were made, nice clothes cleaned and pressed, personal grooming attended to, drive made.

Six89 ( seems to be a restaurant that most people agree is worth the trek to Carbondale from Glenwood Springs, or further south, Aspen. I'm a fan of crowdsourcing - and the people on Yelp give this place a full five star rating. Mission accomplished.

So Sara (yep, Sara of EatFace fame) and I sit down to eat, and the waiter brings us a couple of Six89's version of fried pickles - except these are pickle chips which have magically somehow remained cool on the inside as a pickle should be, and crispy fried on the outside. They're good. Damn good, especially for what is generally considered bar food.

I have a scotch. She has a glass of Pinot Noir. We exchange pleasantries about the pickles. She smiles. About halfway through her glass of wine, we order dinner. "You may have to drive back," she informs me. I discuss scotch, and she very graciously nods her way through that portion of the conversation, even though my material is about as interesting as watching Guy Fieri sample the food of some ethnic minority. (WOW, THAT'S REALLY GOOD.)

We didn't wait long for our food to come out, and that was after the waiter had informed us that they were really busy.

An aside about our waiter: if you enjoy eating something that one of us has ordered, do tell. We can discuss. But don't say that it's your favorite thing on the menu. Because that means that the thing the other person has ordered is not as good, in your eyes. And nobody wants that. Other than that, our waiter was a stand-up guy, was extremely knowledgeable and just the right amount of attentive.

We both had decided on the hamachi for starters - and we were not disappointed. A lot of times, fish this far inland is hit or miss - but it was fresh, and topped with a really light jalapeno sauce and homemade thin crunchy tortilla strips that gave it some much needed texture. I ate mine quickly, and she, being a lady, took her time with it. So I stared longingly at her plate. Don't think she caught me.

Main courses came quickly thereafter, and that's a definite positive. Hers: Grit and rabbit cakes, braised in milk, in a tomato-based sauce. Mine: BBQ Pork in a pear and melted cabbage sauce with pieces of pear. Both dishes were meticulously crafted, you could tell. Presentation was great, and flavor was - well - outstanding.

Outstanding is not a phrase that I use a lot on this blog. Outstanding is not a phrase I use on ANY blog. But the food at Six89 is outstanding.

Her food was delicious and had an interesting texture because of the grits ("I love it when they call grits, grits," Sara said.).

My pork was tender, flavorful and the pear, which I thought would not go well with pork, actually was what pulled the entire plate together.

Delicious, local, and the host wears a bow tie, which Sara was particularly impressed with.

I'm particularly impressed with a lot of things about Six89. It's in an older style house, and the ambiance reflects that. Huge wine selection, a varied menu that has something for everyone and it's not particularly crowded at all, which you can bet is not going to be the case forever.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Tonight I made a new best friend.

His name is barbacoa.

Let me explain. I've lived in this valley off and on for 21 years of my life. I was here before Carbondale was trendy. Before we had a Target. Before you couldn't find a one-bedroom apartment for less than $1500.

But before all of that, and before me, there was probably a carniceria.

What a shame that it took me such a long time to figure out where one was: 15 minutes away, in Carbondale, by the liquor store and the Family Dollar and by a place that, I guess, installs woodburning stoves. In between all those things is a little bit of perfect. There are three bowls on the plastic picnic tables: onions, limes, cilantro. There are three bottles of salsa (chipotle, green-hot and really hot). There are sodas in glass bottles. There are chicharrones and menudo in glass cases. You can buy a pig head for $20. This is a real butcher shop that happens to have a menu, and happens to make the best tacos I've ever had in my life.

Fresh meat is good meat. I'm a firm believer in that. I don't know how much of it is local, but all of it is hand-cut. And if it looks that good in the case, it's roughly 12473 times better cooked. I got two barbacoa tacos with fresh avocado. My dad got a carne asada burrito.

Both came on fresh tortillas (me: corn. him: flour). I love pork so much I am considering going all Top-Chef-Kevin and getting a pig tattooed on me, and this pork did not disappoint. Slightly sweet/spicy barbecue...amazing. And only $1.60 per taco. Suck it, Chipotle.

Dad's burrito: I think it weighed maybe 6 lbs. And 5 lbs. of that was steak. The remaining pound of burrito was homemade refried beans, onions, avocado, cilantro, salsa verde and queso fresco. Note that not one of those ingredients is rice. And then note that the burrito costs $6.50. Suck it, Qdoba.

So, basically, my plan is to go back until I've tried everything. Except maybe the menudo. You can choose from upward of seven meats, combined into magical creations including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. I'm going to try all of them. Except maybe the tripe. You can also get about eight different kinds of tortas and a lot of things I couldn't read because I don't read Spanish (taking French in high school finally reveals its downfall).

And extra plus: there's a tortillaria next door, so you can pick up some delicious souvenirs. And who doesn't love eating under a collection of giant pinatas?

A short postscript about Cheetos: Here at Eatface, we have determined through extensive research that crunchy Cheetos are texturally a meal unto themselves, while puffy Cheetos are best enjoyed with a robust sandwich. This, of course, is a matter of personal preference. Not a matter of personal preference: Cheetos are the best snack food ever, and I'm not ashamed to say that. Own your love of artificially-orange food. Your life will be better for it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chowing in Chicago

Behold a gallery of Zach eating, with super sleuth notes.

Date/Time: Nov 11th, Mid Evening Time
Location: De Cero
Deliciousness Consumed: Duck Enchiladas (note: not on menu)

Date/Time: Nov 12th, 6:30 PM
Location: Flattop
Deliciousness Consumed: Various mixtures of meats, fake meats, vegetables, noodles, rice and sauce. Approx. 3 bowls and numerous flat breads.

Time/Date: Nov. 13th, 10:50 AM
Location: Hot Doug's
Deliciousness Consumed: Alligator Hot Dog, Keira Knightly (firedog) and Cheese Fries

Also See Unaccompanied Food:

Spotted at De Cero
Possible Suspect: Taco collection: Mahi Mahi Special, Avocado, Flank Steak, Duck
Most Likely to be Eaten Again: Flank Steak, Duck
Suspected Accomplice: Hibiscus Margarita

Spotted at: Hot Doug's
Possible Suspects: BLT Hot Dog with Avocado Aoili and Mini Bagel Dogs with Tots
Observed Suspicious Activity: Hot Dog actually made with bacon

Private Eye Conclusions:

~De Cero is a delicious hot spot of activity. Margaritas are strong, duck is luscious and tortillas are freshly homemade.
~Long Line at Hot Doug's can only be avoided by arriving before opening time (approx 30 min).
~Mixing too many flavors at Flattop can lead to flavor overload and taste-bud exhaustion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You shuffle with your head down

I've always found DC restaurants to be a lot like their transient population - always a little bit in a hurry, a little bit like the congressional staffer at 5 p.m., and like the politicians and their aides that infest it, they talk a big game with little substance. You shuffle with your head down, slowly talking into your phone and you end up eating what's in front of you.

It's pretty much the same every place you go. My last trip to DC was 2 1/2 months ago for my brother's wedding. There's a lot to like (but not love) at some places, and in other places, not so much. DC has a burgeoning young population - but again, if you ask me, they don't have really good taste. (With the obvious exceptions of my brother and my sister-in-law, who are great hosts, and even better people to put up with my constant complaining and pretentious way of analyzing food.)

Anywho, it doesn't take much to impress someone who is a starry-eyed aide for a congressperson - they're already impressed by the egomaniacal rantings of political sociopaths.

Anyway, this was a quick trip, and we hit two restaurants during our time. We hit a third in Fado, which I don't consider a restaurant as much as a chain bar, in the style of Baker Street or Cheers. If you've eaten at one Fado, you've eaten at them all. I assume readers of this blog like food or drink, and will have been to one in their lifetime. My experience at Fado is: Dark, chainy, and Smithwick's. That experience has been had a million times by a million people around the country.

Friday night, we went to a place called Matchbox. People seem to like this place, and I guess for DC fare, it stands out amongst the places that don't have to try so hard. One gripe I have is the cover of the menu is made out of wood. Carved into it, the Matchbox logo.

I guess when I see stuff like that, I expect a more business casual atmosphere, which this place (in the middle of Eastern Market, yuppie central) did not have. It kind of seemed like it wanted to go that way, but just can't quite pull itself up like an Italian restaurant that, as its owner, is trying to escape its immigrant past.

Beer: My server seemed to think "I don't know" was a good option when I asked her to recommend a beer on tap. Alright. Either way, she (eventually) suggested Allagash White, an unfiltered witbeer. Allagash is a Maine brewery, and we don't get a lot of that in Denver. I liked it, kind of pale, kind of fruity, very spicy for a wit. Good head, good lace. Not strong, very drinkable and actually went really well for the meal I ordered.

Everything about this place screams "For God's sake, don't order a steak! Please, order the sliders! THEY'VE GOT ONION STRAWS!"

So the clientele, the menu, the server - I really wanted their sliders to be bad so I could write a bad review all thew way around. But I'm sad to report - they were actually very good. It could do with less onion straws, but they were cooked exactly how I ordered them, the buns were lightly buttered underneath the hood, and the gorgonzola on top was just enough.

Damn you, Matchbox. Your sliders got me. Now I have to suggest you.

(Aside: Eastern Market has a wide assortment of restaurants. I've been to 3 now, and my favorite is still Las Placitas, owned and operated by Salvadorians. Any place that bills its weekly flea market as having vendors "from 5 continents" might be a little bit pretentious. I mean, obviously they have people coming from Africa EVERY WEEK to sell their wares to DC residents. That's not that far to go to sell a few prints or handwoven caps.)

On the day I left, we had brunch at a place called Hawk and Dove on Capitol Hill.

Now this is my speed - divey, but not quite dangerous. I had a sausage and cheddar cheese omelet. Aside from being an 8-egg omelet as opposed to the more standard 3-egg, their coffee was decent, their homefries greasy enough. But I didn't like the Bloody Mary (WAY too much pepper) and that's a dealbreaker for me.

Allegedly, Hawk and Dove's food is not its strong point, and I have to agree. Seems like it might be an okay place to drink. I've been to worse places here in Denver.

Starting to look like I'm going to be coming to DC a bit more in the next year or two. I better start finding better places to eat, or this town is going to get real old, real fast.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quick List: Chicago

Things I did in Chicago that you should too:

1. Take the train alone, feel accomplished because you didn't get lost.
2. Walk into the Hilton on Michigan Ave. Act like you belong. Get free information from Concierge.
3. Wear a scarf.
4. Take a Bus Tour! (I will always recommend bus tours).
5. Answer bus tour guide's questions, he becomes less disgruntle this way.
6. Go to the Art Institute.
7. Understand that the video-art-clown-room is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable it is the point of it.
8. Make fun of clown room with people from Michigan.
9. See a Show at Second City.
10. Get a little buzzed on $9 spiked coffees at Second City.
11. Make nice with table mates at Second City, get shots bought for you.
12. Hug your friend goodbye and say "thank you."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bill O'Reilly would be proud

So I work in Arvada currently, and there's a place we go to fairly often for lunch, although, I'm not really sure why.

This place is called The Sultan Grill, and I'm convinced that it is the only Middle Eastern food in a 5 mile radius. I've had a few different things here, and I'm always surprised that the place isn't a little bit more busy.

Yelp denotes it as another one of those "3 1/2 star" places. The best way to describe 3 1/2 star places are "tweeners." In basketball, it's drafting a guy who could go either way - he could be a star or a bust. In west Arvada, a tweener is just as hit or miss - somedays, it's good. Somedays, not so much.

Today, it was good.

I usually order the Gyros Sandwich combo, which includes a gyro, french fries and a drink for $7.25. Sometimes the meat is a little too greasy, and sometimes the tomatoes are a little squishy, but for $7.25, it's better than fast food. And it's a nice change of pace from regular office lunch spots like Chipotle or Qdoba.

Try the hummus - it's not exactly what I think of when I think hummus, but it's tons better than the store-bought kind. And they give you plenty of pita to go along with it when you order it as an appetizer.

For my money, though, the Falafel is what this place has going for it. You don't get good falafel like this at a lot of places in Denver (unless you're Bill O'Reilly, that is).

So what? I have a thing for chickpeas.

Channel the writing skills of Peggy Hill: If you're ever in the vast desert of Arvada and are looking for a place to eat, take a stop at this oasis.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What to Do In Chicago?

I will have a little solitary free time in Chicago next week and I feel like a historic home tour. Here are my options so far...

Glessner House Museum/Clarke House Combo Tour (leaning towards this one)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fredrick C. Robbie House

however these completely non related attractions also look nice...

Shedd Aquarium

Lincoln Park Zoo

Adler Planetarium

I am open to other suggestions, of course. Help!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Snooze a Halloween, Noontime Review

Much has already been said, probably, about Snooze, long waits, exciting decor, hipsterly-typical spotty service and Sonny and Cher sing-a-longs.

Therefore, I will focus upon the magic that is a breakfast entree that does not feature eggs but isn't oatmeal or pancakes. Thank you God! I have only encountered a wonderful occurrence of this magnitude once before, deep in the mountains of Colorado, that epic tale is, however, for another time.

Back to the big city. The elusive entree for the person who loves eating out for breakfast but doesn't care much for eggs (less a fabulous omelet) is called The Snooze Spuds Deluxe. Official description: "choose two veggies and/or meats from below to compliment heaping portions of our hash browns, covered with melted cheddar, jack cheese & scallions" and the options list: uhm apparently not available for copy/paste. It hardly matters what the options are because I created the best combination possible, green chili and sausage patty.

It is severed in a small casserole dish, layered style, hash browns, scallions, cheese, chili and (chopped up!) sausage patty. The layering is my one complaint, even with a drippy veggie choice (yes green chili is a veggie, to me) by the end I was left with a bunch of good but lonely hash browns. Other than that, it was amazingly super. The Green chili was flavorful but not too spicy (remember spice wuss, here). The sausage was thoughtfully cut up. Hash browns were perfectly prepared, not slimy and not too crispy. I wish I could describe the taste explosion of fabulous that occurs when these ingredients are mixed together but I studied economics, so superfluous adjectives escape me, let's just say, it made my happiness quotient increase.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's with the peas?

No seriously.

So I'm on a quest, a quest for tasty really cliche"Mexican" food in my neighborhood (that being Uptown/Capital Hill, Denver). I will never claim to be a good Mexican food critic. While I did eat amazing food in Mexico it didn't stop me from loving the taco/refried beans/rice combo platters upon my return. Also I am a giant wuss and my nose runs at the sight, yes the sight, of spicy food.

I have frequented Las Delicas in Uptown quite a few times and have never really been impressed.

Last night I gave a new place a try. Benny's on 7th and Grant. I ordered the Tamale Dinner (Two pork tamales smothered with chili verde, refried beans and rice). This is where the peas come in. You know I just don't understand why Spanish rice sometimes has peas in it. Granted I think peas are absolutely disgusting, in any form, but they look even worse, if possible, in that rice. I've never heard someone get rice without the peas and exclaim, "WTF, where are the peas?!" So, I don't think anyone would miss them, even if they are insane enough to like them. They look gross. Have they been frozen and heated up multiple times? Where do those odd dimples come from? Traumatic shipping? Too much botox? This is something I'll never get over and it transcends into other food types, see: fried rice. I will move on, unwillingly.

The tamales were fine. The refried beans were good, so refried that there was little hint of bean texture. I'm not saying that's classy but I am saying that's how I like it, liquid bean with cheese, yum. The bits of rice that I got while picking around the peas were fair as well. The best was the chili verde. I wanted more of it. I wanted to make a soup of chilie verde and refried bean liquid. I could die happy. Granted, the chili is probably too mild for the spicy fan but it did come with actual chunks of green chilies and I accidentally put one in my mouth and much to the embarrassment of my dinner companion had to spit it back out, that or suffer death by mouth burn. Luckily this guy didn't see me shaming my state like that as he walked inside. If I lived in California I could make some not so clever remark here like "I'll be back, to Benny's" but alas, perhaps I'll just ride my bike there again soon without any well known tag line.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is only the food I admit to

So I just got back from a 12 day trip to the east coast - York PA, Baltimore, DC, Richmond VA. Below is what I came up with. You have to click on the facebook link, cause there's no way I'm redoing all that.

Anyway, amidst all the wedding stuff in there are some really good restaurants. Coomb's was okay, but Las Placitas in Eastern Market in DC was really good. Full Kee in Chinatown was also good, if a little lacking in the ambiance and feel. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hats in the Highlands, I mean Ice Cream.

Hold on to your Hats!

I found something I like, in the Highlands (of Denver that is!). Yes, it's okay to gasp now.

Mmmmm Ice Cream. Bicycle rides to ice cream. Served out of a giant milk can. Served by people wearing silly paper hats of the ol' days. A discussion decided that people are just nicer when wearing those funny paper hats. Then I decided that anyone who has to take a court ordered anger management class should be forced to wear paper hats everywhere, I'd like to see someone being an ass in a hat like that, haha an asshat!

Anyway, it's called Little Man Ice Cream. It made me feel like I was doing something summer-y, perhaps on a boardwalk. The Cupcake ice cream was tasty as were the extra sprinkles. The summer night was lovely. The hats were the tops.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cerveza Costa Rica

hello readers. (we have readers right?)

I'm planning to be your local beer and booze insider while traveling the globe. I like beer. no. i love beer. It is an art form and should be appreciated as so. Not as fizzy yellow crap you drank in undergrad. In fact, I'm breaking an agreement i made with my girlfriend to not talk about beer for 4 days to write this post.

That being said... La cerveza Costa Rica!

Upon my recent trip to Costa Rica, I was excited to find they have a rather impressive beer selection to offer. And it's cheap!

Don't think since we're in central america this is a kin to the beers of mexico that go great on a beach with a lime. These are serious beers, albeit all lagers.

The stand out champion and price of Costa Rican beer is definitely Imperial. It probably is even more accessible and visible in costa rica then any of the major breweries in america, and there fore i admittedly was turned off at first. Once I had one tho, i realized this was a large lager worth being proud of. Lucky for you, they recently sealed a deal to export to most of north america and australia. If you find yourself in a heavily latin area soon, definitely check it out. Plus, it looks cool.

From here Costa Rican beer gets a little.. less exciting. Pilsen (not pictured) is a lager that does seem to lend a little bit of spirit to the mexican beers mentioned above, and it kind of boring. The Bavarian brand has both a "premium" light lager, and a dark lager. However, if you were blindfolded folded, you'd have no idea which you were drinking, because they taste like nothing.

You'd think that beer that tastes like nothing would be pretty bad. Unfortunately it gets worse. The Rock Ice franchise goes above and beyond anything you ever thought beer should do. unfortunately, they shouldn't have. The Rock Ice flagship is a extremely bland and skunky lager that only seems good due to being the least of all evils. Rock Ice makes an "energy beer", however you have to be able to read japanesse to know this, because the label on the "energy beer" is in japanesse? This isn't sparks, this isn't malt liquor. It is really bad redbull, with a warm Old Style for a chaser. This will only give you energy because you were so grossed out you experienced an adrenaline rush. As bad as this sounds, it gets worse. Rock Ice makes a "lime beer". Again, this isn't what it seems. It's not a beer with lime, like miller chill. This is a beer that is supposed to taste like lime. An important side note right now, is to mention Costa rica has several different types of limes, and even their lime we consider standard here, is orange on the inside. That being said... this beer doesn't taste like any of them. This beer actually tastes like you swallowed a mouth full of sea water... The worst sea water you've ever had. STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS!!

Another great canned beverage option for adult in Costa Rica, is a competitive market for pre mixed Rum and Cola. However, curiously enough, the two biggest brands are made by the same company. These would be Bamboo, and Cuba Libre. Based on packaging alone, one would suggest bamboo is for the kids (above 18 of course) and cuba libre is for old men (but this writer suggests not old men who went to vietnam, reasons to follow).

Bamboo is definitely the less impressive of the lot. sweet, syrupy, definitely much more soda, but with an after tastes that isn't quite rum, but you know burns a little. Suitable when in a pinch, but, definitely not my go to.

Cuba Libre on the other hand, is not fucking around. You can smell the rum from the first crack of the can. The mix is a little strong, but this actually tastes like a Rum and Cola... or as much as a canned pre mixed rum and cola can. But reader beware, I'm pretty sure they are using the original coke formula in this drink, if ya know what i mean. One night specifically, after a pretty lazy day around La Fortuna, we decided to grab dinner across the street. i ordered a single cuba libra with dinner, and by the end of dinner, I swore the room was spinning around me, and my perception of color was overly saturated. I guess for roughly $2 US, I shouldn't complain.

In all, i hope you find this useful, and are lucky enough to find one of these fine products in a store near you, or better yet take a trip to costa rica yourself. if you choose the later, you will be fortunate enough to discover the ever elusive (and gov't made) GUARO!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Colorado Highway System Can Suck It.

I can say this because this is the second time this year I have been trapped on a highway this year and today it wasn't even snowing.

Time of Departure from Glenwood Springs, CO: approx. 5:30 pm

Planned Arrival: 8 PM, Downtown Denver

Time of Return to Glenwood Springs, CO: 11:00 pm

Time in car total: 5.5 Hours

Total distance traveled: 82 miles

Avg Miles per hour: 14.9

Route: Interstate 70

Area of Entrapment: Mile Marker 153 to 157, Eagle County, Colorado

Honestly, it's one thing if it's ski season and it's a Sunday afternoon/evening. Everyone knows that from November to April this traffic equation is always true:

Sunday evening + SUV + California license plates + precipitation = Sitting on I-70 for hours.
(Give or take precipitation) (Also SUV = pick up truck; California license plates = Texas license plates)

It comes as a surprise to me that apparently the equation can simply be reduced to:

Sunday evening = Sitting on I-70 for hours.

I know this is technically MY fault for not thinking to check the traffic on this perfectly sunny July day. After being unwillingly trapped in Eagle County, Colorado I can't help but feel a bit of a kinderance with Kobe Bryant's groupies so let's quit the victim blaming, deal?

There were many things that helped me through this nearly traumatic time and if you ever plan to travel along I-70 I suggest you bring these along:
cold leftover sesame chicken, 1 half a bottle of old water, music from the Knife, a paperback NY Times Best Selling Novel (My Sister's Keeper, was my goodie), a dying cell-phone (the dying helps the dramatic effect), a snide thing to think about every driver around you and this travel quote from modern-day philosopher Jimmy Buffett, "You can throw your luggage down, lose your cool and stomp around but there's nothing, nothing you can do."

But seriously 5+ hours? There has got to be a better method, perhaps a sign near the entrance to I-70, even a hand written one that reads "I wouldn't go this way, buddy!" would have been good enough for me.

And finally the photo that killed my phone battery, which also turned out to be much less dramatic than I had hoped it would be:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Side of Meat, Bitte

For a perfectly traditional Swabian dinner go to Stuttgarter Staeffele, in Stuttgart Germany, that's an order.

They had an amazing appetizer garden salad that came with potatoes hiding under the other vegtables, jackpot! The only thing that kept me from eating all of the salad was the knowledge of what was to come (this was my second glorious visit). Feel free to order the potato cakes with homemade applesauce for an appetizer, the Germans may laugh at you and tell you it's a dessert but if you don't eat it first there is no way you'll be able to at the end of the meal. That's thinking ahead, meine Fruenden.

Do yourself a favor and order the a bit of it all platter (loosely translated). It's gigantic and completely worth it. It's delicious pork, beef, sausage, spaetzle, potatoes and probably more that I can't remember because my mouth is watering and stealing liquid from the area around my brain.

The traditional red wine is served in a short glass mug and is very potent as the people in the car who had to listen to my Enrique Iglesias renditions for thirty minutes would testify to, weeee!

This place is great because the food is face-stuffing good, the place is tiny and feels like an old wine cellar and best of all I walked by the kitchen and who was cooking? A round, old, German lady! That's authenticity!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Touristing it Right, London

Again, I'm a huge fan of kitschy, cheesy, tourist attractions. Here I present my London essentials (not all are cheesy):

1. Tour on the Red Bus.

This is great for your first day in the city so you can get your bearings, see the sights from a distance thus making it much easier to decide where to spend the rest of your time. Parents like it too, see...

2. St. Paul's Cathedral

It's expensive, it's crowded and you can't take pictures inside but a hike to the top of 500+ steps will give you amazing views of the city. Also test out the whispering wall during the first leg of the accent. My brother said it worked but he may have just been humoring me.

3. Harry Potter, nerd points points of interest

Kings Cross Station, where they have actually set up a place for all of us sad people to go to and get photo proof of our nerdom. What place you say? Platform 9 3/4, if you asked you obviously don't know.

A walk across Millennium Bridge, which is very close to St. Paul's, will allow you to get giddy like "my friend" did when you see it get destroyed in the Half-Blood Prince movie.

4. Kew Gardens

A leisurely Underground ride and a short walk from the center of London. This place is a huge botanical gardens with outdoor and indoor gardens, old royal manors and expansive lands. If you've ever imagined yourself a member of Victorian royalty this is the perfect place to daydream (Prince Charming not included). Take some sandwiches and have yourself a picnic or go late for their summer concert series.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

English Food isn't bad...

just expensive and not exactly English.

Exhibit A:
Cote Bistro, French

Grilled Artichoke

Roast Duck Breast with Gratin Potatoes

We found this place just wandering around starving and such. What a happy surprise. The artichoke was on the specials menu and the duck is on the regular menu. Both were exceptional, as were the two bottles of wine, don't worry we still found our way back to the hotel. This method of wandering while hungry only worked out this well once, I suggest other methods of finding food. We went the to location in Kensington but luckily it is a London chain and has many locations throughout and outside of the city.

Exhibit B:
Ping Pong, Dim Sum

I have never had dim sum before, at all, so I don't have a point of comparison but I thought it was really delicious. I have, however, had a few cocktails before and can say quite confidently that their drinks were like nothing I've ever had before. The first was the Lemongrass and Lime made with Finlandia vodka, fresh lemongrass, lime and lychee juice, really tasty. The other drink that we attempted is called a Tennessee Tea Tingle the description for this reads "Jack Daniels, Cointreau and lemon juice topped up with Pepsi. Enjoy the electric feeling from the Sechuan buds!!!" Let me tell you, while the Whiskey may come from Tennessee I'm not sure the Sechuan buds would be legal there. After chomping one down and having my mouth tingle, burn then go numb we asked the waitress about these "Sechuan buds." The only information she had was that they come from Amsterdam, enough said. That's my younger brother up there, double fisting like a champ.

We ordered a lot of Dim Sum the list is: chicken puff, spinach and mushroom dumpling, spinach and prawn wrap, chicken and cashew nut dumpling, vegetable bun, chicken and black pepper spring roll, lemon chicken, honey glazed ribs, and crispy asparagus. I must say, I did crinkle my nose at the steamed vegetable bun but I take it back it was great, I recommend it, that's right, I just recommended something with vegetables.

Ping Pong, like Cote, has numerous locations, making these eateries easy to fit into your sightseeing schedule.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Big Burgers by Jim.

In my treasured tradition of eating things as big as my head, I give you, Jim's Burger Haven.

Needless to say, the Large Burger is, in fact quite large. It tastes good, nothing terribly special. The fries also good. The onion rings were tasty and perfectly crunchy, I'd pick them over the fries. I also had a chocolate shake. Because I have a weakness for BK Milkshakes I sometimes forget that *real* milkshakes don't just taste like melted soft serve. Jim's Milkshakes are the real deal. Actually I'm quite sure the entire place is the real deal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not to brag...

...but I'm kind of a badass.

A piece of Durian, right before I ate it, swallowed it and ate more.

A video of Andrew Zimmern spitting Durian out.

Let there be Orange-colored Sauce

17th Ave in the Uptown area of Denver offers many a tasty restaurant. In the event that you, like Zach and I did, wander down the street looking for something other than the usual haunts wander a long way down (yes as hard as it may be to pass Pasquini's). Then you too can have something along the lines of this...

Seco de cordero:
Lamb Stew with Rice

Atun con tacu tacu y aguaymanto:
Ahi Tuna with Lentil cake (and orange-colored sauce of the Gods)

Plato de Crema Quemada:
Flavors: Mocha, Mojito and some fruit we couldn't remember and coconut.

All this can be had at the Peruvian-fusion restaurant: Limon, 1618 E 17th Ave, Denver.

Zach liked his Lamb Stew but thought the rice was a little off. I ate a lot of the onions out of his stew and thought they were quite lovely. My Ahi (you know it's mine because of my awesome dining out attire of a Beatles' hoodie) was really good. Zach thought he didn't like fish and he even liked my Ahi, hopefully this will be a culinary turning point for him. It may have been the magic orange sauce that came with it. Not that it's the case here but I think that sauce could make almost anything (food and perhaps a twig) taste delightful. The lentil cake-thing also pleased me a great deal. Now I really don't want lentils in a different format ever again .

If our entrees look a bit small to you, that's because they are. Limon offers a half-sized option on most of their entrees. Good if you, like we, haven't quite reached baller status or would rather save room for dessert.

The presence of a dessert here is a special occurrence. I very rarely order a dessert. I think the combination of lower priced and mouthwatering entrees, Zach the splurger and ONE wicked strong Sangria (can we say cheap date?) all combined to make that Creme Brulee appear in front of me. My personal favorite was the mystery fruit and coconut and I don't even like coconut. It was terribly interesting a bit like an adventure for the mouth. The first taste is the sweet/burnt of the sugar and fruit followed by a very subtle coconut. I'd say it was downright fun to eat.

My thrill for this restaurant grew as my friend who returned from Peru recently explained to me that the food he ate there with the locals was actually quite bland. Therefore I can only conclude that orange-God sauce was a product of the fusion, thank goodness for food physics.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Second-Saddest Place on Earth

Detroit might have it nailed down in the "saddest place on Earth" category, but Albuquerque could close in on it if it doesn't watch its back.

I'm in town for a business trip, leaving tomorrow for the happiest place on Earth, Disney World (duh). But for the moment, I'm in the Hyatt business center (Hyatt=very nice rooms, good pool, decor circa 1993), and here I will recount a little tale about my time in Albuquerque, NM.

I got here and thought, "Hey, not so bad!" It was a reaction spurred by not-so-stellar reviews of the city from, well, pretty much everyone who had been here before me. It was warm. It looked like they had some urban renewal projects going on. There were trees by my hotel. There seemed to be things within walking distance. But soon, my hopes were dashed. To summarize:

Biggest Disappointment
Brazilian food at Tucanos. Turns out this is a chain restaurant, not quite what we had in mind. Anyone remember the Mongolian BBQ in Boulder? This place was that place, only with large skewers of meat instead of grills. And a super wierd salad bar that contained things like garlic mashed potatoes juxtaposed with quail eggs and beef stroganoff. Hm. Also, beware of Tucanos if it is your birthday. They will bang lots of congas and sing in something that I must only assume is Brazilian. There were a lot of birthdays that night. However, local beers were on tap and I had an IPA from the local Marble Brewery which was really quite good. And the old Route 66 area is pretty cool - old neon signs and the like, but not somewhere a lady should be alone at night.

Biggest Fun Surprise
There is a HUGE brigade of bicycle-riding policemen in Albuquerque. This didn't make up for the fact that the 7-11 closed at 9 (as opposed to, you know, 11) or that I counted five passed out drunk dudes and a puddle of vomit in the five minutes it took to walk to the 7-11. Remember how I was heartened by the urban renewal? I think they forgot to finish it.

Biggest Historic Sighting
We ate dinner at the Church Street Cafe in Old Town, which is housed in what the menu claims may be the oldest building in Albuquerque (early 1700s!). Very cool little place with a nice patio and tasty sangria. Sadly, not the best Mexican food, particularly if you enjoy things that are spicy, or, for that matter, things that have salt in them. Nice ambiance, though. Old town is also super cute in the tourist way and there's lots of shopping, some of which is wicked cool, like Santisima - seriously one of the most interesting stores I've ever visited; made me wish my suitcase was way bigger and I was way richer.

Biggest Not-Fun Surprise
My dining companions and I were chilling on the corner waiting for the bus when, out of nowhere, a little to-go side order of salsa flew out a car window as the passenger of said car let out a maniacal cackle. Salsa was everywhere, the carnage smelled of jalapeno. I avoided the drive-by salsing but others weren't so lucky. Then we got on a bus that had a big ad across the ceiling that said, simply, "AIDS." I later saw a bus with a similar sign advertising "SYPHILIS". Wtf.

Biggest Delight
Get ready for a shameless plug. Coworker and I lunched at a restaurant owned by two of our (now married) culinary grads called Cafe Green. It's a French breakfast and lunch joint that had the most delicious (and beautiful) chicken salad sandwich I have ever laid eyes on. Crispy French baguette, cranberries, cucumber, walnuts, hard boiled egg, chives, salt and pepper. Simple and delicious; plus it came with a side of truffle fries. Joy! The menu rotates seasonally based on what is fresh and local. If you ever find yourself here, get there sometime before 2 p.m. and eat well.

Not so free donuts.

As if there was a choice, we went and got free donuts on June 5.
Unfortunately, at the Winchell's on south Broadway, there were no donuts to be had. So we bought 2, and got 2 for free.
Here's Kristen woofing hers down. She later complained of being feverish from the two-donut combo.
Sorry, Kristen. I had to.

(EDIT: So later on, I get a tweet from Kristen saying that there were two pictures taken that night. I forgot ... and my form, as she remarked, is much better than hers, which she should be proud of. A lady eats donuts with a certain daintiness that a man just doesn't have...I didn't so much eat them as attack them, putting fear in their mother's heart that I would do the same to their siblings, donuts holes.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fast Times

So yeah, we went to some nice restaurants in Vegas (see accidental awesome wine post).

But we also see Vegas as another kind of food Mecca. It is where the best fast food in the world lives. Fast food worth paying for cabs; fast food worth braving the heat; fast food that will change your life.

Or at least it will if you live in Colorado and don't have regular access to In 'n' Out and Nathan's.

The Happiest Hamburger in the World.

There are a few things that make In 'n' Out's food pretty awesome. Most important: Everything is fresh. Crispy lettuce, thick tomatoes and onions, fresh cut fries.

Buns are toasted.

Special sauce is present.

You can get like 5 hamburger patties on a burger if you want, I think.

Also: don't miss the milkshakes.

And if you're a huge burger dork, you can unearth In 'n' Out's secret menu. I personally stick to the's kind of not worth trying to make it better.

In true Vegas style, In 'n' Out Las Vegas is graced with a giant neon sign, so it'snot hard to find. But remember: even though it looks like it's close to the Tropicana, it's really not. Take a cab. Seriously. Food will only be like $5. Don't kill yourself walking there.

Hot Dog Heaven, and Maybe the Best Fries Ever.

Oh, Nathan's. Yeah, you can buy Nathan's hot dogs in the store. Or at Heidi's deli. Or whatever.

But they won't be made to order, and they won't come with amazing crinkle cut fries.

Nathan's hot dogs might be the only reason I would ever move to New York. They are traditional style, with natural casings (that little "pop" when you bite in will tell you if there are natural casings, btw). They don't get overpowered by condiments (important, because I eat mostly so I can put condiments on things).

But, most importantly, there are fries.

Kristen and I tried to think of fries we liked better. We couldn't. And that's quite a feat. They are thick cut, but not mushy or too stachy. They are soft inside with perfect crispness quotient outside. They come with a teeny-tiny fork to eat them with. They are perfection.

Also! Best tip we discovered in Vegas: If you catch it on the right day, the Coney Island area of the New York New York has a special: buy fries and a drink, and your hot dog is free. Yes, please.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

To Do Friday Night in Denver!

Begin Shameless plug:

My friends Zach Clark and Brandon Proff are showing their art this Friday in Denver.

Friday, June 5, 2009
6:00pm - 10:00pm
LEGWORK (2nd floor of the Figherfighters association building)
2342 Broadway St.
Denver, CO

Link to Click for more Information.

The best news? There will be beer! Free Beer!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New meaning to the phrase "garbage plate"

On Wednesday, I flew into Rochester, NY with a plan: visit what is known to a lot of foodies (including Jason Sheehan, of Westword fame) as one of the best cheeseburger places in America.

One small problem: we didn't have a rental car.

Three things happen when you don't have a rental car on one of these trips. One, we had to rely on our contact to drive us to where we were doing interviews. Two, no control over what you ate or when you ate. Three, the client probably isn't going to have the patience to drive you all over Rochester looking for said burger joint, especially when you've already spent 12 hours in an old van together over the better part of 36 hours.

So needless to say, I didn't end up at Schaller's Drive-In. Which is a huge disappointment in itself, but then, I had the bad fortunate to be tortured by the rest of the cuisine throughout central New York state.

Listen: Denver is not a mecca of great restaurants in the United States. But we get by. We are positively Paris-effing-France when compared to most of these places.

First, before we even arrived, I was pouring over Yelp on my iPhone looking for a sports bar within walking distance of our hotel (the Nuggets game, which I don't care to discuss). Then I found the Thirsty Turtle. 'Thirsty' implies booze - how could we lose? We went in, and immediately got the feeling that this was maybe not the place for a couple of out-of-towners. We got into an unfriendly conversation about the Red Wings with some unfriendly locals, and were saddened by the desperation you can only smell on those late 20-somethings stuck in Victor, with no prospects to get out. "It's good to get some local flavor," my cameraman would later tell me. 
As for the food, don't bother. As an ode to knowing I probably wasn't going to make it to Schaller's, I had a bacon cheeseburger that tasted like it was from a seriously dirty grill, and we split 10 hot wings that were not great, but at least were meaty.

The culinary abominations continued the next day. After a 3 1/2 hour drive to Walton, NY and a 2 hour shoot, we decided to stop at Papa's Diner. My cameraman, originally from Wayne, NJ, said he misses diners like this now that he lives in Colorado. I had the Walton Melt, which was chicken and peppers with some sort of (American? Swiss? I couldn't tell, which is a bad sign) cheese. There was also a lot of Elvis crap on the walls, which should have caused us to turn tail and run the second we walked in, but I'm an idiot and convinced us to "stay and try a little local flavor." Take that, cameraman.

That night, with no car and no energy, we walked the 1/2 mile to Chili's by the hotel, where we proceeded to eat basically none of our food (I picked at my disgusting Fajita Quesdillas) but drink a little bit (okay, a lot) too much.

Did I mention that was my birthday? Yep.

Finally, Friday we had another long drive to Angelica, NY (1 1/2 hours), where we built up an appetite shooting a landfill gas to electricity plant (yes, thank you for asking. The smell was incredibly appetizing). The food of central NY was almost vindicated when we stopped in Geneseo, NY for a burger at a bar called The Statesmen. Despite having one of those moments where you walk in and everyone stares at you for about 10 minutes. ("Not me," I plead with my eyes. "The cameraman looks like he'd be a lot better lay than me.") I had another bacon cheeseburger, which was actually very good. I maintain: you find the best cheeseburgers in America in dive bars.

Which brings me to the title of this blog: The garbage plate. Our gracious host told us about a place in Rochester called Nick Tahou Hots that serves what is called a "Garbage Plate", basically a big plate of hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni, and the like. Why it's called a garbage plate, you got me, but it doesn't sound very good. I guess a lot of restaurants around Rochester have something like it nowadays. 

All that talk about what exactly goes into garbage plates was a fitting end to an underwhelming food trip in Rochester. Guess they slipped me the garbage plate the whole time I was there.

Friday, May 29, 2009

So is it Spicy?

This title sums up my first experiences with Ethiopian food. I like to think I'm rather daring when it comes to trying new food but I'll be the first to admit I'm a giant wuss when it comes to eating spicy food. The experience as I'll submit it to Hollywood...
Kristen, a sarcastic foodie from Colorado, cautious about spicy food
Brandon, a sarcastic artist from Colorado, cautious about spicy food
Zach, Colorado native now living in Chicago, lover of Ethiopian food
Rachel, gal with international flair living in Chicago, loves Ethiopian food but knows none of the names of dishes.
Friendly waiter
Arada Restaurant.
Cast wanders hungrily down Santa Fe Blvd after taking in an art show.

sarcastically, "We could eat at that Ethiopian restaurant"
"uhhm ok"

Cast sits at table, reads menu
"What does this mean? Is this spicy? How does this work?"
"I don't know I just get served the stuff by my Ethiopian friends, it's good."
"Yeah I can't do spicy"
"Uhm I think Berbere means spicy. I'm confused is this not family style?"
"Yeah Right!"
"It should be. I'm not that hungry"
"This one says mild, maybe I'll get that one"
(Yebeg Siga Alitcha, lamb stew with garlic and ginger)
"Oh I was going to get that one! "
"Fine, I'll get a different one."
"No, I'll get a different one."
"No Way"
Kristen (to waiter):
Which ones are not spicy?
Anything that says "alitcha."
"Ok Brandon do you want chicken or lamb?"
(Doro Alitcha: mild chicken with special Arada spices)
"Then I'll get the lamb. That waiter is really nice."
"You lame losers, I'm getting
spicy, spicy chicken!"
"Are you ready to order?"

Cast orders:
Yebeg Siga Alitcha
Doro Alitcha
Doro Wot (chicken in Berbere sauce)
Yatakilt Alitcha (potatoes, carrots, cabbage and onions)
Shrio Wot (chickpeas)
Tomato Fit Fit
Tomato Salad
Yater Alitcha (yellow split peas)
Yemiser Wot (spicy lentils)

Food Arrives, family style.
Explains dishes, serves food

Cast uses fingers and injera (a sour, soggy bread more like an un-fried tortilla) to eat.
Brandon sneakily takes candid Iphone photo of Kristen and food.

Cast stuffs themselves, eating much more than they should
"That spicy chicken isn't too spicy"
"Speak for yourself"
"Well then don't try the lentils"
"This is really good, especially the tomato fit fit, shiro wot, and the alitcha's"
"My chicken was the best!"
"Bull Shit!"
"I'm glad I suggested this place"
"I'm glad I took you seriously"
End Scene.

Well, my future might not be in screenplay writing but it will include more delicious food from Arada. I have my eyes on the Awaze Tips (Beef, berbere sauce, garlic and tomatoes) now that I know I can take the heat.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Psychedelic Experience, No Drugs Required.

As a wannabe hippie (the 1960s version) The Psychedelic Experience Exhibit now at the Denver Art Museum is probably as close as I'll ever get to realizing my dream. Therefore I really liked it. I think those of you out there with more realistic goals could like it too if you take your time and look at the right posters.

First of all, it's worth it to read the artist information and information about the promoters and venues. Stories always add to the interest factor.

The exhibit starts with memorabilia from the Day-Glo days of Ken Kesey, The Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests. Click for the condensed version of who these wack-a-doos are but if you can read hard to follow books with extraordinary speed, check out Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests.

The most interesting pieces are optical illusion pieces that at first glance may just look like gibberish or more simplistic than they really are. Especially those of artist Victor Moscoso whose use of color contrast to display text it mind-bogglingly fun. We had a game of it trying to read the entire poster. Lee Conkiln's optical illusions are pictures within pictures. It's worth it to stand around and stare at their pieces and see things others miss while merely glancing around.

Also worth a visit is the Side-Trip where you can create your own poster or light show, listen to albums, chill on the couch or in a pillow-lined bathtub and leaf through a 1960s yearbook or LIFE magazine.

The exhibit only goes through July 21st so hurry up and make the trip! (pun intended, har har)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mamma Knows Best!

As Carrie Bradshaw would say, "hello lover!" She was talking about shoes. I'll be talking about pizza. My favorite little pizza place in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada to be exact.

I discovered Mamma Ilardo's a few years ago and now look forward to it every time I go to Vegas. Apparently it's a chain restaurant, which, sad for me, doesn't exist in the middle of the country. It does exist in the food court of the MGM past all the fancy restaurants.

The only thing I've ever gotten and the only thing I ever plan to get is the deep-dish pizza with sausage and pepperoni (double the pig, double the fun). Sara usually opts for the bread sticks so I'll go out on a limb and recommend them too. It's true I'm not a deep-dish expert (if I were I wouldn't fail at getting deep-dish every time I visit Chicago). Regardless of my status, this pizza is just damn good. Just the right amount of crunchy crust, sauce that isn't yuck like most pizza sauce, tasty sausage crumbles. I'd go on but my mouth is watering.

The point is it's good, it's fast, it's cheap (Vegas cheap) and most importantly it's ready at breakfast time. Mmmm breakfast of champions.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't make eye contact with a belly dancer

If you've learned one thing in the brief time we've had together, it's probably this.

I'm not necessarily the best communicator in the world. I eat - and I'm good at that. (Most obviously.) I drink - I'm pretty good at that. (I've got a no-vomit streak going, and that's not going to end anytime soon.) I can hold a conversation with most people. But when it comes to playing cat and mouse with someone who is half-naked and gyrating like a top, not so much.

Friday night, my friend Marcedes, her husband Matt, and our friend Tom all went to Mataam Fez, 4609 E. Colfax Ave., for dinner. You don't need me to tell you about Colfax east of Colorado Boulevard. Lacking the charm of Capitol Hill Colfax and Golden Colfax, this part of Colfax is the part that you speed through. I wouldn't call it scary, but it's definitely run down - it reminds me more of Detroit than any other part of Colorado. 

Anyway, it's not the best part of town. This little place has received 3 1/2 out of 5 stars on Yelp and I guess I'm just going to have to disagree. The service was hit or miss. Our hostess, who also functioned as a tea giver (giver of teas? Is that her formal title?) was warm, friendly and helpful. But our server couldn't be bothered. 

Dude, you had like 3 tables. And you still forgot my beer.

Did I mention there was a belly dancer? *Puts "Man Hat" on* She was probably in her middle 40s, which is not a problem, and in great shape, but I just have a problem gawking at women who are mere seconds younger than my mom. So she walks by, hips flying, hand cymbals flailing, and I make the mistake of a lifetime.

I looked at her in the eyes.

In that moment, I glanced at the hint of a life unfulfilled. Dancing for tips, smiling at all manner of food-inhaling gawkers. And I must have given her the sad eyes. Because after she got the sword out (yes, the sword. Which she proceeded to swing about wildly) she wouldn't leave us alone. So Matt gives me a dollar, in the hopes that her money lust will be fulfilled by a single dollar and she'll go away. "Where do I put it?" I ask. They laugh and point to her bottom/underwear thing. 

So in an attempt to not catch her desperation, I try to hand her the dollar. And she looks at me, points to her crotch and says, There. Like she's a stripper or something. 

Needless to say, I very gingerly place the dollar in her whatever-you-call-it and turn around. Slowly, so as not to disturb the stripper, I mean dancer, in her natural habitat.

On a normal day, I can forget all of that. As long as the food is good, I don't care if I get a smile with my service.

Decent. Edible. Different. These are all adjectives that I would use to describe the food. 

Our first course was a Lentil and Lamb soup in a tomato base. It was good, but a little bit too salty for my taste. And I love salty things. Our second course was a plate full of various vegetables cooked different ways - nothing to write home about, except maybe the carrots that had been cooked in a hot sauce. Our third course was a meat dessert pie, which was by far the highlight of the meal. Fourth came our entrees - mine, Lamb in a honey-almond sauce. Again, meh. Finally, tea, which was chai-like and waaaay too sweet.

I took pictures of all our food, but will only threaten you with these two.

If you like to wear a towel over your left shoulder and use it as a napkin, give this place a try. If you like to make awkward eye contact with half naked women, give this place a try. If you are ready to endure mediocre food for one good course, by all means, give Mataam Fez a try.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Intentional Food Snobs, Accidental Winos

I go to Vegas for the food. That's right, shocking.

Imagine my euphoria when we discovered that the majority of the nice restaurants in the MGM Grand were having spring tasting menus (through the 31st of May). That's like winning at a slot machine people.

After much debate, my group of girlfriends and I decided to go big time and go to Nob Hill Tavern. I campaigned hard for this choice as previously we had merely had appetizers and two drinks and it cost $80 and now I could get 4-courses for $49! Winner? Me.

As a table we decided to invest in a bottle of wine, that's what highbrow people do after all. Still though as none of us have reached our full Housewives of Denver status we picked a cheaper* Pinot Noir on the list. We informed our Sommelier of our wine selection and he seemed unusually excited about our cheapo* bottle of wine. More on this later.

Then the food came! (cue the ding!ding!ding! of winning a jackpot)

We received two pots of delicious gruyere fondue with sourdough bread. Oh so tasty. That's Lizzie in the background and Sara the hand model. Then came the first courses. I opted for the cream of broccoli soup and was ever so pleasantly surprised when grilled cheese came with it. I'm not crazy about grilled cheese probably because I have an aversion to Kraft Singles but this grilled cheese was no "I'm in college and I'm broke grilled cheese." The cheese wasn't mysteriously salty and it was grilled just right. There was also bacon in the soup. If you don't already know bacon makes every food better and I mean EVERY food.

Bring on the Main Courses! By this time I'm already feeling the pinch of too much food. I probably went a little too hard at that fondue out of pure excitement. After leaving half of the grilled cheese behind as a causality I was greeted with this magnificent dish.

I won't lie when the menu said Braised Short Rib with Root Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes I didn't exactly know what Braised Short Rib meant. I chose it because it had me at Mashed Potatoes. As it turns out a Braised Short Rib is like a pot roast, a pot roast from Heaven. It was better than grandma's. I never thought I would say that, I'm sorry grandma. I wanted to eat it all but and I tried my hardest, until my stomach was audibly yelping in pain. I did make a tiny bit of room to try Sara's dish, Chicken and Dumplings. To which my official review was and will remain, "I didn't know chicken could taste that good!"

For dessert I had Irish coffee creme brulee (I don't know how to make fancy accent marks) and by this time I must have been so delirious by deliciousness that I neglected to take a picture. It was beautiful and fabulous and somehow I managed to eat it all.

Finally it was time to go. Our bill arrived and to our surprise (or maybe for some, horror). We had not ordered at cheap bottle of wine. I even checked with our adorable Sommelier to be sure we weren't all food drunk or actually drunk, as we had finished the bottle. We were neither. Instead we had accidentally ordered a 2006 Kosta Browne from Kanzler Vineyards* costing over $200. Nothing to say to that except that fate wants us to be as fancy as we pretend. So go to Nob Hill Tavern they'll assume you fit in and perhaps you'll accidentally prove that you do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jet setting on the cheap

Doing my daily surveying of the Internets, and came across an interesting post on Mashable. Turns out if you aren't too picky about your travel dates, you can go pretty much anywhere in the US, Caribbean and Mexico for well under $1,000 - and sometimes even Hawaii.

Voyij scans all the best deals on the web and combines them in a super easy-to use filtering system so you can decide on a trip based on location, length of stay, star ratings, etc. Very handy, especially if you don't have a schedule to work around. For instance: Four night hotel stay plus airfare to Puerto Vallarta in the beginning of August = $480. For reals? Yes.

Here's to becoming Samantha Brown and having some Great Weekends-style trips.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Today's Special: Have a Semi-Decent Day!

Do you like goat cheese and arugula omelets? How about quinoa pancakes?
Then this post isn't for you....

If your family is like my family (highly doubtful), your mother likes to be treated extra special on Mother's Day by being taken to a nice breakfast, at the neighborhood greasy spoon diner.

The Village Coffee Shop in Boulder is a family tradition. What can I say? We are classy people. What do most classy people like? Perfect, cheap hash browns, that's what. If you disagree it's because you're just posing as classy, pathetic really.

Let me break it down for you (as you are likely still having issues coming to grips with your lack of classy at the moment). It's a diner. A magical 890 square foot diner. You've got your stationary 2-tops, 4-tops, and counter seating. You also have your regular waitstaff, who I'm sure if you go often enough you'll get to know by name, a mission that my brother is trying to complete before graduation. He just wants to order "the regular," wouldn't we all....

I almost exclusively get a half order of biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns. This is more food than I can actually eat for $4. For the sake of journalism I ventured out today. I had the Denver omelet that came with those perfect hash browns (crispy on the outside, soft inside and no wading pool of grease, well maybe just a little) and some toast ($7.50). I don't like eggs that much and I don't like green peppers that much but I really liked this Denver Omelet, so it must have been spectacular. Oh, I also had some hot chocolate the kind that comes with a tower of Redi-Whip on top, yum.

When you go (as soon as you get over yourself you arugula snob), if you go on a weekend expect to wait in a line. Don't fret it moves very quickly, especially if you stare at the people eating through the window. Expect to have a cheap, fast and lovely breakfast. Finally and MOST IMPORTANTLY tell the waitress if you or other members of your party are visiting for the first time. They likely won't ask but if you volunteer the information, you'll get a special surprise.